Massachusetts high court: Same-sex couples entitled to marry

DealMonkey

Lifer
Nov 25, 2001
13,136
1
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Here we go . . .

Massachusetts high court: Same-sex couples entitled to marry
Wednesday, February 4, 2004 Posted: 12:34 PM EST (1734 GMT)

BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) -- The Massachusetts high court ruled Wednesday that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples -- rather than civil unions -- would be constitutional, erasing any doubts that the nation's first same-sex marriages could take place in the state beginning in mid-May.

The court issued the opinion in response to a request from the state Senate about whether Vermont-style civil unions, which convey the state benefits of marriage -- but not the title -- would meet constitutional muster.

"The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal," the four justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage wrote in the advisory opinion. A bill that would allow for civil unions, but falls short of marriage, makes for "unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples."

The much-anticipated opinion sets the stage for next Wednesday's constitutional convention, where the Legislature will consider an amendment that would legally define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Without the opinion, Senate President Robert Travaglini had said the vote would be delayed.

The soonest a constitutional amendment could end up on the ballot would be 2006, meaning that until then, the high court's decision will be Massachusetts law no matter what is decided at the constitutional convention.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled in November that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, and gave the Legislature six months to change state laws to make it happen. (Full story)

But almost immediately, the vague wording of the ruling left lawmakers -- and advocates on both side of the issue -- uncertain if Vermont-style civil unions would satisfy the court's decision. (More on the Massachusetts ruling)

The state Senate asked for more guidance from the court and sought the advisory opinion, which was made public Wednesday morning when it was read into the Senate record.

When it was issued in November, the 4-3 ruling set off a firestorm of protest across the country among politicians, religious leaders and others opposed to providing landmark rights for gay couples to marry.

President Bush immediately denounced the decision and vowed to pursue legislation to protect the traditional definition of marriage. Church leaders in the heavily Roman Catholic state also pressed their parishioners to oppose efforts to allow gays to marry.

And legislators were prepared to vote on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would seek to make the court's ruling moot by defining as marriage as a union between one man and one woman -- thus expressly making same-sex marriages illegal in Massachusetts.

What the case represented, both sides agree, was a significant new milestone in a year that has seen broad new recognitions of gay rights in America, Canada and abroad, including a June U.S. Supreme Court decision striking a Texas ban on gay sex.

Legal experts, however, said that the long-awaited decision, while clearly stating that it is unconstitutional to bar gay couples from marriage, gave ambiguous instructions to the state Legislature.

Lawmakers remained uncertain if civil unions went far enough to live up to the court's ruling -- or if actual marriages were required.

When a similar decision was issued in Vermont in 1999, the court told the Legislature that it could allow gay couples to marry or create a parallel institution that conveys all the state rights and benefits of marriage. The Legislature chose the second route, leading to the approval of civil unions in that state.

The Massachusetts decision made no mention of an alternative solution, but instead pointed to a recent decision in Ontario, Canada, that changed the common law definition of marriage to include same-sex couples and led to the issuance of marriage licenses there.

The state "has failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples," the court wrote. "Barred access to the protections, benefits and obligations of civil marriage, a person who enters into an intimate, exclusive union with another of the same sex is arbitrarily deprived of membership in one of our community's most rewarding and cherished institutions."

The Massachusetts case began in 2001, when seven gay couples went to their city and town halls to obtain marriage licenses. All were denied, leading them to sue the state Department of Public Health, which administers the state's marriage laws.

A Suffolk Superior Court judge threw out the case in 2002, ruling that nothing in state law gives gay couples the right to marry. The couples immediately appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court, which heard arguments in March.

The plaintiffs argued that barring them from marrying a partner of the same sex denied them access to an intrinsic human experience and violated basic constitutional rights.

During the past decade, Massachusetts' high court has expanded the legal parameters of family, ruling that same-sex couples can adopt children and devising child visitation right for a former partner of a lesbian.

Massachusetts has one of the highest concentrations of gay households in the country with at 1.3 percent of the total number of coupled households, according to the 2000 census. In California, 1.4 percent of the coupled households are occupied by same-sex partners. Vermont and New York also registered at 1.3 percent, while in Washington, D.C., the rate is 5.1 percent
CNN.com
 

DanJ

Diamond Member
Oct 15, 1999
3,509
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Good for them. Like they said, we've tried "seperate but equal" and its far from it.

How this is even an issue is beyond me.
 

Strk

Lifer
Nov 23, 2003
10,198
4
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President Bush immediately denounced the decision and vowed to pursue legislation to protect the traditional definition of marriage. Church leaders in the heavily Roman Catholic state also pressed their parishioners to oppose efforts to allow gays to marry.
I received a news letter from the Catholic church(I'm not christian) about this last week, kind of funny.

Massachusetts has one of the highest concentrations of gay households in the country with at 1.3 percent of the total number of coupled households, according to the 2000 census.
I didn't know my state was so gay
 
Oct 16, 1999
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This is a bad judgement, and I think very few on either side of this argument want. The exact same rights under a different title isn't seperate, it's just that - different. Saying it has to be called 'marriage' is just going to feed all the hard-core people on both sides.
 

DanJ

Diamond Member
Oct 15, 1999
3,509
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Originally posted by: Gonad the Barbarian
This is a bad judgement, and I think very few on either side of this argument want. The exact same rights under a different title isn't seperate, it's just that - different. Saying it has to be called 'marriage' is just going to feed all the hard-core people on both sides.
Why the hell should the word marriage matter?? Is marriage anywhere near sacred anymore? What is it, 50+% fail? Who knows, maybe they'll do better at it then straight people do.

Who cares; let gay people marry if they want.
 

sMiLeYz

Platinum Member
Feb 3, 2003
2,696
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In the immortal words of Jon Stewart from the Daily Show...
"They're not going to make me marry a gay man are they? Because if they're not I don't see why I should care."
 
Oct 16, 1999
10,490
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Originally posted by: DanJ
Originally posted by: Gonad the Barbarian
This is a bad judgement, and I think very few on either side of this argument want. The exact same rights under a different title isn't seperate, it's just that - different. Saying it has to be called 'marriage' is just going to feed all the hard-core people on both sides.
Why the hell should the word marriage matter?? Is marriage anywhere near sacred anymore? What is it, 50+% fail? Who knows, maybe they'll do better at it then straight people do.

Who cares; let gay people marry if they want.
It shouldn't, but it does since 'marriage' has a religious denotation. I'd be content if they replaced every instance of the word 'marriage' in legislation with 'civil union' and let everyone, gay or straight, in a civil union call it whatever the Hell they wanted to.
 

EagleKeeper

Discussion Club Moderator<br>Elite Member
Staff member
Oct 30, 2000
42,591
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They can define marriage as opposite sexes to keep the bigots happy

but, those having made the choice to live with the same sex, should be allowed all the legal protections that a couple of the opposite sex has.

That way marriage becomes affiliated with a religious context (which they are trying to puch anyhow) and removes the legal standing from their influence.

Let the laws be changed to allow two people period who take a legal vow, to have equal benifits and responsibilites as a legal civil union.
 

preCRT

Platinum Member
Apr 12, 2000
2,340
123
106
Here is the text of the decision


Why are conservatives so damn scared?

They won't have to marry anyone of the same sex, unless they want to. ;)



Wonders if MA will now see a dramatic upswing in the economy as gays flood the state for expensive weddings?
 

EagleKeeper

Discussion Club Moderator<br>Elite Member
Staff member
Oct 30, 2000
42,591
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Originally posted by: Wag
I didn't know my state was so gay
Yep, we like to dress up as Indians and drink tea here in Ma.
I thought the costume party was because the tea was so bad :p
Made the harbor taste better
 

preCRT

Platinum Member
Apr 12, 2000
2,340
123
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Boston Harbor [and the Charles River] are much cleaner now.


Thanks to all of you that are now paying exorbitant fees to the MWRA



The 'costume party' was in response to taxes, without voting power.
 

Spencer278

Diamond Member
Oct 11, 2002
3,637
0
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Originally posted by: preCRT
Here is the text of the decision


Why are conservatives so damn scared?

They won't have to marry anyone of the same sex, unless they want to. ;)



Wonders if MA will now see a dramatic upswing in the economy as gays flood the state for expensive weddings?

I think mass is just tring to steal the gay dollar away from vermont.
 

EagleKeeper

Discussion Club Moderator<br>Elite Member
Staff member
Oct 30, 2000
42,591
5
0
Grew up in MA - walked the Acton-Concord trail on Patriots day many a year.

Well before the developments came and the trail had some actual dirt and logs.
 

Wag

Diamond Member
Jul 21, 2000
8,286
4
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A little OT, but the Harbor is 90% cleaner than it was 25yrs ago, but I still wouldn't drink from it.;)

I worked at the Charles River Museum of Industry so I know a bit about the history of the River and the Harbor. It's even safe to swim in a few places. Amazing considering it was one of the most poluted rivers in the world.
 

Strk

Lifer
Nov 23, 2003
10,198
4
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Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY
"I also do not support gay marriage and they know that."

So how does one spin their stance now that their state's Supreme court makes a statement like they did today?

This should be an interesting question if it is ever asked of kerry.

CkG
By finishing the rest of the quote ;)

I also do not support gay marriage and they know that. But I voted against gay bashing on the floor of the United States Senate. And I think people in the United States of America want a president who will stand up for civil rights and civil liberties and not drive a wedge between people in our country
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: Strk
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY
"I also do not support gay marriage and they know that."

So how does one spin their stance now that their state's Supreme court makes a statement like they did today?

This should be an interesting question if it is ever asked of kerry.

CkG
By finishing the rest of the quote ;)

I also do not support gay marriage and they know that. But I voted against gay bashing on the floor of the United States Senate. And I think people in the United States of America want a president who will stand up for civil rights and civil liberties and not drive a wedge between people in our country
That's great but nothing was taken out of context - his intent was to state he did not support gay marriage.;)

CkG
 

Strk

Lifer
Nov 23, 2003
10,198
4
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Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY


That's great but nothing was taken out of context - his intent was to state he did not support gay marriage.;)

CkG
It kind of was, since the follow up states that he will not deny civil liberties to others, since most anti-gay marriage stances also include a "and I will do whatever I can to stop it" kind of mentality.
 

CADsortaGUY

Lifer
Oct 19, 2001
25,162
1
76
www.ShawCAD.com
Originally posted by: Strk
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY


That's great but nothing was taken out of context - his intent was to state he did not support gay marriage.;)

CkG
It kind of was, since the follow up states that he will not deny civil liberties to others, since most anti-gay marriage stances also include a "and I will do whatever I can to stop it" kind of mentality.
But he still doesn't support gay marriage though - right?

CkG
 

Strk

Lifer
Nov 23, 2003
10,198
4
76
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY
Originally posted by: Strk
Originally posted by: CADkindaGUY


That's great but nothing was taken out of context - his intent was to state he did not support gay marriage.;)

CkG
It kind of was, since the follow up states that he will not deny civil liberties to others, since most anti-gay marriage stances also include a "and I will do whatever I can to stop it" kind of mentality.
But he still doesn't support gay marriage though - right?

CkG
Personally? Yeah, he is against it.
 

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